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Anyone's family member not wanting to share info or talk about treatment etc - cancer denial(17 Posts)
My mum was like this. I don't know what the situation is with your FIL is of course but in my mum's case she was very strong woman and very independent and one of those people who seemed able to solve any problem that presented itself to her. She had a high profile career and as such was seen as the go to person for a lot of people. She was only young when she was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer (42) and this was something for which she didn't have any answers. She was very reluctant to have us come with her to appointments and would refuse all offers of any help. It wasn't that she was in denial but her way of handling the situation was to keep calm and carry on so to speak. She even carried on working for two years after the terminal diagnosis and didn't tell her employer or any of her colleagues until she handed in her notice six months before she died! I can fully appreciate that your DH is frustrated as I've certainly been there and bought that t-shirt but my advice would be to offer your help, be there if he wants you to be, but at the same time give him the space to do things his own way if he declines. x
I have lived through this with two relatives
For 5 years I could not talk about cancer as my reaction and grief was almost physical
Until fairly recently prognosis was poor so the fathers generation see it differently
Don't push - I could not be persuaded to talk about it
As someone who has had cancer, there is nothing worse than relatives making it all about them. Your DH can't help, unless your FIL is refusing treatment, which it doesn't sound like he is.
It's your FIL who has to deal with it, and TBH it's actually none of your DH's business. If FIL doesn't want help then you can't make him. Your DH will just have to deal with it.
My sister was like this too: she didn't want to talk about it and we respected that (although it was a bit weird to handle sometimes).
Maybe you can't answer but
Is the diagnosis terminal ?
Is this a recent diagnosis?
I was just thinking about denial being the first stage of grief and if your fil has had time to process this .
Ultimately your dh will have to abide by his father's wishes but it will be so very painful for him, I'm so sorry.
My dad didn't say a word about his diagnosis. Not a single word.
My dad did this; he even prevented his notes being discussed with me (I was NOK) when he was hospitalized. It made planning for his palliative care extremely difficult. Sorry you & your dh find yourselves in this position too
I would be exactly the same. It would be something I would want to deal with myself. For me, the absolute last thing I would want is all the family hovering round trying to 'help' in some way. I probably wouldn't want to discuss it at all and would want life to continue in as normal a fashion as was possible.
I know how frustrating it can be for everyone else in the family when someone doesn't wish to discuss their illness. My dad was that way when he had cancer; he just didn't want to think about it or discuss it and we had to accept that. Twenty years after he died, I now understand where he was coming from.
Your FIL has the right to behave exactly how he wishes, it's not about your DH. Your DH needs to vent his frustrations on someone else and allow FIL to deal with his illness.
My Mum died from cancer nearly 6 years ago. She never talked about it with any body, though of course she knew. We respected that, even if we didn't understand it.
My MIL chose not to speak about her cancer very much at all, I'm not even sure if "chose" is the right word, but she didn't anyway. Even when obviously close to death (last week) it was never mentioned.
It was frustrating because (a) DH never got to say goodbye properly at all (b) even if he had gone to see her, it would have been "why are you here?" So there was an absolute stonewalling of the illness and death. (c) and this is the most important, she didn't get proper palliative care, basically she died with uncontrolled cancer pain, and no proper pain relief until less than 6 hours before she died.
They might have been her choices, but that doesn't mean they were good ones, the reality of course is that she brought much more physical pain on herself and much more emotional pain to her children. Whether it is rooted in immaturity or selfishness is up for discussion.
For all that though, we do have to follow the lead we are given. But if I ever find myself in that position I hope that I don't exclude my children.
Caramel I am very sorry about your MIL, it must be very, very raw for you all.
I do think though that it's important to note that choosing not to speak about terminal illness with those close to you is not the same as choosing not to have pain relief, and the latter is what she must have done.
I only have the experience of my Mother's death to go on, but from the time of "the call" to when she died 5 days later she was on increasing dosages of morphine and sedatives. I guess she must have given her consent to be treated while she was able to and that's something your MIL must have refused (?). Was she in denial herself maybe?
Tbtc20 thanks, it is hard to know what she was really thinking. She refused any help ( of any description) from Macmillan, and didn't want to hear about morphine much either. Hard
sounds very tough.
Is there anyone reasonable at all among them?
Is it possible that the way in which the information your are giving comes across as telling them what to do, and that this is what gets their backs up? For example I am hypersensitive about people saying "you want to do X" . My immediate thought is "really? Who says? Here comes the crap"
Maybe though they just see you as a soft target for their fear and anger which is reprehensible.
If it is all part of how they normally behave I would try to mentally back away. If they say they are confused keep asking them what the liaison nurse says, and keep recommending that they call the nurse with their specific questions.
When they say they are confused about the treatment what does that actually mean? Confused about what it involves? When appointments are? Prognosis? Can they be specific?
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